By CHRIS AGEE
Johnathon Hamm, owner of Mineral Wells' lone taxi company, requested last month that the Mineral Wells City Council repeal the flat-rate fare system adopted in 2008.
He prepared a proposed rate system in line with cab fares found in urban centers and council unanimously voted to approve the ordinance change.
Hamm explained the new rate schedule was needed to compensate for daytime clients who make several stops around town.
After a few minor adjustments, the final rate system approved by the council allowed for a $2.25 pickup fee for a first passenger and $2 for each additional passenger for all fares picked up within a 3-mile radius of the taxi office at 900 E. Hubbard.
Outside of the 3-mile radius, $1 will be added to the pickup fee for each mile or fraction thereof.
After pickup, riders will pay 20 cents per 1/9 mile and will be responsible to pay 50 cents per minute for wait time.
Additional changes to the ordinanc included allowing cabs be inspected every six months instead of every 30 days and the repeal of a requirement that an inspection tag designed by the city be placed on its license plate.
The requirement of taxi drivers to possess a state chauffeur's license was also repealed, since that is not a state requirement.
Council tables action on credit card fees
Finance Director John Moran presented council members with the case for adding a 4-percent surcharge to residents paying for city services with a credit card.
He explained the city incurs fees for each credit card transaction which the law allows to be passed on to the cardholder.
While a governing body can charge up to 5 percent, Moran said his recommendation would just provide reimbursement to the city for those added charges from the credit card companies.
Local resident Charles Thompson spoke in favor of Moran's proposal, though he said it should not take place immediately for those used to paying utility bills with credit cards. He suggested giving customers plenty of advance notice to allow them to make other payment arrangements, if necessary.
Moran said the $1.50 surcharge for online payment would be repealed under his plan and would be replaced with the 4-percent fee.
Those paying through automatic bank withdrawal would still not be charged for the transaction, he said, because the city does not incur a cost associated with such payments.
Council did not act on the issue and requested further information about how debit card users would be affected. Allen also asked Moran to prepare notices to be distributed to utility customers in upcoming billing cycles.
Council appoints minimum housing committee members
Continuing the process of establishing a minimum housing code for rental property in Mineral Wells, city council members Tuesday chose seven members to serve on its board.
After each member chose seven names from among those who expressed interest in serving, those receiving the highest votes were appointed to the board.
The seven members selected are Nancy Cameron, Sharlet Evans, Phil Garrett, Randy Nix, Carolyn Shipp, Michael Ward and Gene Ender.
PECOFacet expansion moves forward
Council members unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city to apply for a Texas Capital Fund grant benefitting PECOFacet financially during its construction of the Dunman Perry Research and Development Center.
The Industrial Foundation agreed to build the facility and the City of Mineral Wells would then purchase it upon completion as a Texas Capital Fund project.
This would provide a property tax incentive to PECOFacet, who would lease the property and pay ad valorem property taxes on the leasehold value rather than the fee ownership value of the facility.